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Cut the coat according to the cloth

Posted by ESC on June 26, 2003

In Reply to: Coat cut to the cloth posted by michael glass on June 26, 2003

: Hi,
: Anybody haeard of the phrase "coat cut to the cloth"? As in "He was a man whose coat was cut to the cloth".
: Meaning?
: Thanks.
: michael

TO CUT THE COAT ACCORDING TO THE CLOTH - "A tailor, making such a coat, would pay no attention to the pattern in the cloth nor to warp or woof; he would make it out of whatever material there was at hand, taking advantage of every scrap, regardless of the appearance of the ultimate garment.It had become proverbial in England by the time (John) Heywood compiled his 'Dialogue conteynyng Prouerbes and Epigrammes' in 1546, but no one can tell how much earlier it had been common in English speech." From "Hog on Ice & Other Curious Expressions" (1948, Harper & Row) by Charles Earle Funk.

I've understood that this phrase means that the person adjusts his attitude, actions, etc., according to the situation that he finds himself in. Working with the "cloth" he has. That's not always a good thing.